Sunday, January 28, 2007

(Here is Ethne with her daddy.)


As Craig I finished our walk we saw a young duck on the sidewalk in front of us. The small bird was waddling furiously—flapping its wings in an attempt to get off the ground. Instead of rising, the small creature stumbled forward. The momentum failed to lift him, and instead propelled him forward, skidding across the uneven surface of cement. It was painful to witness and couldn’t have been much fun to experience. Once the young bird came to a stop it waddled awkwardly off the sidewalk into the parking lot, where it found shelter behind the tire of a nearby parked car.

I’m still worried about that poor little thing because ducks don’t belong under cars. I know about ducks. They fly. They’re made to fly and that little guy will succeed, he will fly one day, he just needs to try again. Oh, I hope he doesn’t give up!

Have you ever felt like that little duck, skidding along the sidewalk when you really wanted to soar? Have you dreamed of lifting off and instead failed? I often feel this way about writing. Wanting to communicate is a deep passion but so often I’m insecure and what I try to do doesn’t quite measure up. I know that in Christ I am equipped for everything—any thing—all things, but sometimes I feel like hiding in a safe place where I won’t get hurt. The running is hard work and trying to get off the ground can be humiliating and painful. I trip up, stumble, and fall flat on my face. Still, the wind keeps beckoning me upward and I long to spread my wings and go on to new heights to places where the view is fresh and spectacular and I am flying freely.

“Oh, little duckling, if you can hear me thinking of you, listen. You can do it, I know you can. You may feel like you will never fly, but you will. Just don’t give up. Try again. Come on little friend, I know you can do it. You were made for this, don’t settle for hiding next to a tire when you were created for the heavens.”

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


My heart is bursting, overflowing, ready to explode with the wonder of God loving me. Our Bible study for today was cancelled since El Paso schools had a late opening due to snow. (Yes, this time it’s real snow, see above picture. It melted by noon, but it was here, really).

Back to the bursting heart—I have a question. Are you convinced? Absolutely certain, in every fiber of your being, that the Lord God Most High loves you? Not in a casual sort of way, like, “I love chocolate, and rainbows and presents.” But in a commitment, non-ending way of I chose you. I adore you. You are the one. Your best interest is my highest concern. You are mine and I am yours. A bridegroom delighting in his bride! He’s in love with you! He is interested in everything that interests you.

He thinks about you all of the time. In fact, His thoughts about you and what pertains to you outnumber the grains of sand. Think sea shore; now add all the beaches, and ocean beds, and deserts all over the earth. More than all that sand, He’s thinking of you right now. I wonder if He’s just waiting for us to believe this? It’s true. And if we will believe it, if we are convinced of it every moment, every day—it will change our lives!

I believe this truth, but still I need to be reminded. Thoughts and situations tempt me to forget. I don’t totally forget, but I temporarily don’t remember. I think if I awoke very single morning and just remembered who I am, that I belong to Jesus and all that concerns me concerns Him, I could do anything, face every situation, and respond to life in faith.

My granddaughter is here on Tuesday afternoons. Before her nap I read her a story and sing her a song. I bet it’s one you know by heart and have known since you were young. So simple. So true. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. . .yes, Jesus loves me! Yes, Jesus loves me. Yes, Jesus loves me, the Bible tells me so. Maybe if that became my morning song, I’d remember.

It would remind me that the Father demonstrated His love to me, by calling me and choosing me and sending Jesus to redeem me. And that Jesus proved His love for me by willing giving His life for my sins and is now praying for me. The Holy Spirit shows His love for me by living in me, teaching me, guiding me, comforting me, correcting me and praying for me according to God’s will. Three in One—all totally and faithfully involved with loving and caring for me (among many other important activities). That’s amazing. That’s love. Wow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

A Balanced World

Ethne doesn't look too happy about the news that delighted us!

A Balanced World

In our world there are many different types of people. Today we’ll consider two. Those who are logical, who look at the facts and think about how things relate and what that might mean. I call these folks the smarties. My husband is a smartie and just to keep thing in balance, so the world isn’t too lopsided, there are folks like me. We float through life thinking creatively about everything but the task in which we’re involved. Now, if you let it , which ever kind of person that you are not can drive you nuts. Thankfully Craig loves me and hugs me and says I cute when I act—opposite of him. The non-smarties bring a lot of joy into the world because they do things that make others shake their heads and snicker.

Like the city officials of El Paso. True, Texas has been blasted with severe ice storms and the result has been deadly accidents. But on Thursday afternoon, with the forecast of snow, and a clear sky, the announcement was made that all schools would be cancelled for Friday. Government workers also got a snow day. The thing is, it didn’t snow. Not on Friday or Saturday. This reminds me of what Jesus said about those who will respond to a weather forecast but refuse to look at world events and prepare for eternity.

Next, I’ll tell a tale on myself. Unfortunately this really happened. My mom was the one to inform us about the news report that the schools and government offices would be closed. Then she added, “Only the trash will be picked up like always.” I heard this and so the next morning I got up early and took the trash can out to the curb. I wondered why I was the only one on the street to remember trash day. I also wondered why there was only one bag in our trash can when it’s often overflowing. I even thought, “How did we manage that?” I took it as a blessing and added some cardboard which was in the garage. Thankfully, my mom saw the lone green trash can sitting at our curb and mentioned that it was Friday and our trash day is Tuesday. It was replaced before Craig could see what I’d done. (but he does read this blog.)

Today was my mom’s turn. Early she announced that she was taking the Split Pea soup out of the freezer to eat for dinner, saying it would go perfectly with the cornbread leftover from yesterday. So, near dinner time, I poured some of the defrosted green liquid into a bowl thinking, It sure does smell spicy! I didn’t eat mine right away, but my mom heated up a bowlful and took it to her room. Later she came downstairs asking me if I’d done something different to the soup. “No, I just froze it.”

“You didn’t add chili or something?”

“No, but it did smell spicy.”

“I ate it but I had to eat two pieces of cornbread just to swallow it.”

“There was no label on the container?”

“No, but it sure looked like split-pea soup.”


When I got around to tasting mine it only took one little sip to realize that the thick green liquid was not soup. I went up to inform my mom that she might be spending some extra time in the bathroom.

“Why,” she said.

“You just ate a bowl of green enchilada sauce.”

MORAL: Never eat frozen green stuff if it smells spicy and isn’t labeled.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Welcome! Go away!

(Here is a picture Ethne's dad took of her eating breakfast)

Last night we watched Ethne while her parents went out. When we arrived, Ethne was on the rug playing with tiny hard candy pieces shaped like pacifiers which her mom brought home from a baby shower. Ehtne didn’t know they were candy, to her they were just brightly colored little toys.

As soon as we walked in, she called out, “Hi Grammy! Hi Granddad!” From the sound of it, she was really happy to see us. She seemed pleased we were there.

We joined her on the rug, but when Craig reached out to pick up one of the candy pacifiers, Ethne scowled at him. “No Granddad. Go away. I play with toys.” He was no longer welcome. Her joy at his presence faded as soon as he reached for something she didn’t want to share.

A picture of us with God. Most of us like Him at a distance. In fact His being a part of our lives may even make us happy. But what about when He wants to touch the things we play with, or be involved in our pastimes? Has He overstepped the boundary into our personal desires?

This is a hard one for me, because I don’t often clearly see what I’m withholding from Him. I’m not aware of the boundaries I’ve erected to keep my lifestyle and pleasures at a safe distance from His direct involvement. But somehow, somewhere, in the deep places of my heart I feel that these invisible fences keep me from fully knowing Him.

Oh yes, He knows me fully and the toys that I consider ‘mine’—the attitudes and activities that I refuse to share with Him. He sees those things that have put distance between us. But, I don’t want that kind of relationship. One where I say, “Hello, Jesus! Welcome.” Then in the next breathe, “No, Jesus. Go away. You can’t touch this area, this pleasure, this toy in my life.”

“Oh Lord, All Seeing, All Knowing One, I want to surrender all, everything! To share all with You, to give all to You. Help me to see those things that I desire and enjoy and hold on to that are keeping You from possessing all my mind, heart, soul and strength. Amen.”

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lessons from a 2 year old

(Here is Ethne who will be 2 next month, but she's already acting the part.)

No one had to tell Ethne about the terrible twos. She instinctively went from ready-to-please, to please-myself overnight. I’d blame this on the first onslaught of female hormones except I remember my boys we’re just as independent beyond their experience as my girls. With Ethne this is showing itself in declarations of, “I don’t want to,” and “No.” Make that, “No!”

This urge to be independent is good and bad. We don’t want children who are still clinging to us when they should be clinging to a soul mate. Still, on a Spiritual level, there is really no such independence. Interdependence with others of faith and total dependence on Jesus is the only way to true freedom for those of us who are bond slaves to the Perfect Master.

But this means, dying to myself. Here I am again, thinking of what it means to take up my cross. Not to wade miserably through life, bearing a mantle of self-pity, sorrow or suffering, but crucifying self and selfish desires every day. This is my cross, to say ‘no ‘to self. This is the same self that first emerged about the time I turned two and has been demanding her own way ever since.

This requires admitting and remembering that without Him I am nothing. It sounds simple and I think my mind has agreed with this vague image for many years. Now I’m discovering how desperate this makes me. Not only knowing I can’t do anything alone, but continually going to the Source of my strength. Taking the time to be fed of Him, to eat my daily bread, to be nourished so I can face the next moment. It’s knowing that I can not breathe without Him. I can not obey without Him. I can not walk in the Spirit unless He enables me. So maybe being a mature Christian is more like an embryo than a strong individual. More like dust than like gold. More like Jesus than like me.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Forgotten Pain

Craig and I enjoyting the sunset.

I’m in pain. It’s my own fault—I went to Yoga. My daughter, Aimee, taught the class and I wavered between feeling satisfied that the investment we made in her college tuition is paying off and wondering if she has some deep seeded animosity toward me. Come to think of it, she did have a pleasant expression on her face, a small innocent smile.

She said we had to keep our shoulders open and our hips even, on the same plane. “Like you’re pressing against a wall.” Keeping my hips even and my shoulders open is a challenge even when I’m sitting in a chair or walking through Target, but just how do you keep anything even when your legs are straddled, your toes spread, one leg bent, the other straight, looking up, bending sidewise, while breathing in and out through the nose to make the sound of “Haaaa?”

Special breathing techniques always remind me of labor. And the pain I’m feeling this evening also takes me back to those four vivid life-changing events. I’ve always thought it was interesting that while pain can be acute, once it’s over you can’t reproduce it through memory. I can recall the pain of labor. I know it was the hardest work I’ve even done and I know it hurt. But, thinking about giving birth doesn’t make the pain manifest itself here and now. Isn’t that good? Isn’t God good?

Come to think of it, every type of pain I’ve ever experienced has passed. Some emotional pain required me letting it go, offering forgiveness before the sting disappeared. Well, I never really intended for my blog to be a whining place but today it is. Guess it’s time to go and soak my sore muscles in a hot tub, “Ahaaa. . .”

Monday, January 08, 2007

I can't do it!

Here is a picture of Sara and Mike’s children, Cameron and Kayla. (I think every Grandparent needs a blog so they can post pictures)

Last night I decided to put together a wooden file cabinet which I’d purchased. The directions said that all I needed was a Phillips head screwdriver. I got my husband’s electric screwdriver and proceeded to strip the screws as I tried to force them into the predrilled holes.

Thankfully I asked for help before I’d done irreparable damage. Thankfully the men in my life are very kind. They did not yell or belittle me but quietly took over and completed the job.

My son Eric said, “The main problem is that you don’t have the right size of screwdriver.” I didn’t even know screwdrivers came in different sizes, the direction didn’t mention this vital piece of information.

My husband Craig hugged me. “This just proves that you need me. I need you, too,” he whispered.

I hugged him back. “Sorry. I was only trying to be self-sufficient.”

As the words of this confession left my mouth, understanding filled my soul. I’ve been trying to be self-sufficient in my Spiritual life. But I can’t do things alone, in fact I can’t do anything in and of myself.

I want to live my life to honor Jesus but I'm just not sure how to do it. So I’ve been trying to figure out the formula. For a long time I thought that I needed more self-discipline, a new schedule, strict obedience—no more excuses. If I would just do what I’m supposed to do, everything would be fine. But those words reminded me of His words, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Nothing, Lord? You mean I can’t even obey you unless I abide in You and You give me the ability? So, I’m brought back to the simple truth that my job is to be loved by the Lord, everyday to be loved and to love Him back—simply abide in His love. All real life flows from that well spring, all obedience, all joy. No room or need for self-sufficiency, just coming each day knowing that I can’t do it on my own and opening up my heart to be filled.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Snow and other amazing things

It really snowed here today—great big juicy flakes, floating down through a grey malnourished sky. Craig was home after a short day of surgery and we had a fire going. We both think it would be wonderful if he could keep earning what he makes without having to work!

I took the ornaments off the tree, but that’s all I’ve done as far as putting away Christmas decorations. I have to mentally prepare myself since it requires two full days of work which includes a lot of climbing up and down on our 16 foot ladder and bending low to get in and out of our storage area.

Besides having snow, another amazing occurrence is that I’ve finally begun to rewrite my novel. I’m using a workbook by Donald Maass title, Writing the Breakout Novel. I’m hoping it will help me to stay focused and improve this story.

Writing is fun, but it is also very hard work and I’m too good at avoiding it. But it’s a new year and so I’m making a new start. In a few weeks, if you want to, you can politely ask me how I’m doing. I’ve given you permission to keep me accountable and that is hard for me to do, but there it is, if you want to ask, go ahead.

I’m having fun helping Amy and Eric as they begin to plan their wedding. We found some gorgeous gold plates to use as the centerpieces on the tables at the reception. The other morning I awoke very early with my mind is full of wedding ideas and finally had to get up and find a notebook to record all the thoughts.